• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Ernest Rutherford and the Atom article

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Imagining Science

Ernest Rutherford – The nuclear atom

Today we’re going to be looking at Rutherford’s alpha-particle scattering experiment and how, through this, he found ground-breaking new evidence on the structure of a nuclear atom.

Ernest Rutherford, a notable English physicist, in the 20th century understood that all matter is made up of atoms. However, he wanted to delve deeper in this understanding about atoms. As a result in 1909, along with his assistants, Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, carried out an experiment  to investigate a detailed model for the atom (the ‘inner-workings’).

Diagram of Rutherford’s Alpha-Particle Scattering Experiment

image00.jpg

What Rutherford did was quite unique. He used and a He used a source which emitted alpha particles (charged helium ions), and directed the beam of alpha particles towards a thin gold foil (he wanted a thin layer as thin a layer as possible) to observe any effects between the two.

Rutherford’s Observations

  • Roughly 99% of the alpha particles passed straight through the foil.
  • Some of the alpha particles were deflected by the foil at small angles - 1 in 8000 alpha particles were deflected at around 90° and over.
  • Around one out of every 12000 particles to rebounded off the gold foil – some directly in the opposite direction!
...read more.

Middle

Rutherford stated that:

“It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.”

Rutherford’s Explanation about the Observations

Rutherford inferred from the observations that there must be a positive charge in the atom due to the fact that the alpha particles, which were repelled, were positively-charged (as similar charges repel each other and cause them to scatter in the opposite/a different direction. Also, the observations implied that the ‘positively-charged something’ in the atom must also have a high mass. The high mass, within the atom, enabled the ‘something’ to withstand the charged alpha particles that were fired onto the foil at such energy – if it did not have a high mass then no alpha particles would have been deflected.

...read more.

Conclusion

His explanations could be tested in different ways. What can be done is by testing the explanation with different foils. In today’s day-and-age, science has advanced much more than in Rutherford’s time. Through this, different (positively-charged) particles can be used to fire at different types of foils to see if the explanation is true for all. As all matter is made of atoms, then the observations in the different explanations must be similar to that of Rutherford’s observations. Predictions can be made through this – i.e. by stating that particles should deflect or rebound or pass through when fired. Also, predictions can be made by seeing what to expect when using an electron microscope to outline some-type of structure within the atom. At a specialist-research facility in Switzerland (CERN), they use particle-accelerators in order to make atoms collide. This enables scientists to see the structure within. All of this can be done by making predictions about the structure of atoms using Rutherford’s explanation about the nuclear model of an atom.

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Radioactivity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Radioactivity essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Is nuclear power the future? Should we build more nuclear power stations in ...

    4 star(s)

    Energy efficiency, cleaner use of fossil fuels, renewables and state of the art decentralised power stations like they have in Scandinavia.' [12] Renewables such as wind and solar power can be implemented easily and they are completely safe and clean.

  2. Is Sumbathing Good For You?

    Melanoma is a malignant tumour of melanocytes, which are found mainly in skin but also in the bowel and eye. It is one of the rarer types of skin cancer, but causes the majority of skin cancer related deaths. Despite many years of intensive laboratory and clinical research, the single

  1. Do Mobile Phones Cause Brain Tumours

    Short-term research hardly shows a correlation between mobile phone usage and brain tumours- In a Daily Mail article from 2 years ago, studies about the link between mobile phones and tumours were considered and the writer came to a conclusion that there was no current evidence that cell phones do cause brain tumours.

  2. Brief History of the atom model.

    However they did contribute to chemistry in other ways. The main quest of the alchemist was to find a way to turn common metals into the precious metal gold. Although we now know that such a feat is impossible (since that would involve actually changing the number of protons in

  1. SHOULD MORE NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS BE BUILT IN BRITAIN?

    sources of energy are not good enough or as efficient compared to nuclear power. It is also saying that the renewable sources will not be able to successfully fulfil the countries needs of electricity. This has been proven in some aspects as only 10% of energy sources are renewable.

  2. The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power and fossil fuels and which is the ...

    7 How does each power plant work? Fossil fuels (See Diagram 1 on separate sheet) 11 This is an example of how a fossil fuel power station works, using coal as the fuel. Most fossil fuel plants work in this way, regardless of the fuel being coal, gas or oil.

  1. Atomic Theory of Matter.

    Salt water is a kind of mixture called a solution. Salt ions (electrically charged fragments of molecules) spread throughout the water. Regardless of whether water is in the solid, liquid, or gaseous state, its molecules always consist of one atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen.

  2. Rutherford’s Alpha-Particle Scattering Experiment

    Rutherford expected all the alpha particles to go through the foil, as he believed Thompson's 'plum-pudding' atomic structure. But, the results of the alpha particle scattering experiment were surprising. What they observed was not really identical as their expectation. The record on the screen showed that when the alpha particle

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work